$300M for Humans on Mars, Robots, and Fighting Solar Storms

$300M for Humans on Mars, Robots, and Fighting Solar Storms

It’s no secret that President Obama is a blerd–a big-time sci-fi buff and a huge proponent of advancing STEM. He just served as guest editor of popular geek ‘zine Wired‘s November issue.

President Obama launched a number of STEM-related initiatives and at his most recent event, the White House Frontiers Conference, revealed specifics on how the United States will push technology and innovation.

At the conference, held in Pittsburgh last week, the Obama administration announced that $300 million would go toward science, technology, and innovation. The investment is “to develop the industries of the future and harness science and technology to help address important challenges,” according to a press release issued by The White House.

Here are some ways the $300M will get applied:

  • $70M to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain research to make breakthroughs in diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; traumatic brain injury; and depression.
  • $16M for the Precision Medical Initiative, a program started by President Obama for healthcare innovation.
  • $165M in both public and private funds to support cities’ use of data and technology for solutions to issues such as traffic congestion.
  • $50M in federal funds for small-satellite technology that allows for widespread, high-speed internet access and continually updated imagery of Earth.

Some other projects announced included the administration’s upcoming release of a report on preparing for the future of artificial intelligence and development of technology that will allow a human mission to Mars by the 2030s.

Additionally, an Executive Order was announced to coordinate efforts to prepare the country for space weather events such as solar storms.

The Frontiers Conference was co-hosted by the White House, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. It brought together over 700 thought leaders in business, technology, philanthropy, and innovation to meet on five subjects (or “frontiers”):

  • Personal: Innovations in healthcare and medicine.
  • Local: Building smart communities, and investing in open data and the Internet of Things.
  • National: Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, automation, robotics and other advanced technology.
  • Global: Accelerating clean energy and developing innovation to company climate change.
  • Interplanetary: Further focus on space exploration including missions to Mars.